Opposition has to offer a value proposition that is much superior, yet achievable, to the voters.
Barisan Nasional has managed to repeat its Melaka state election victory, winning two-thirds majority (40 out of 56 seats) again in the Johor state election on Saturday (March 12), despite scooping only 43.11% of all ballots cast. All the opposition parties grabbed the remaining 16 seats, even though they had won the popular votes (56.89%). That sucks, but welcome to democracy.
It’s not rocket science that if all the opposition parties had joined forces, they could win. Unfortunately, unlike the 2018 General Election, where the Barisan Nasional was defeated for the first time in history due to a united opposition, today’s Opposition is massively divided. As a result, Barisan did not have to do any heavy lifting, but laughed all the way to the bank.
Pakatan Harapan, the largest opposition coalition comprising DAP (won 10 seats), Amanah (1 seat) and PKR (1 seat) secured 367,525 votes or 26.42% votes – DAP won 181,455 votes (13.04%), Amanah (101,200 votes – 7.27%) and PKR (82,556 votes – 5.93%). DAP, Amanah and PKR contested 14, 16 and 20 seats respectively. MUDA, a new party aligned to Pakatan, won 1 seat and received 48,072 votes (3.46%).
Perikatan Nasional coalition, which is a governing partner of the ruling Barisan government at the federal level, obtained 334,457 votes (24.04%), but won only 3 seats. Bersatu won 2 out of 33 seats contested, while PAS grabbed 1 out of 15 seats contested. Gerakan lost all the 8 seats it contested. Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin has even lost his stronghold Gambir constituency.
Other opposition parties were annihilated. Pejuang, set up by ex-PM Mahathir Mohamad, was not only wiped out, but suffered humiliation – lost deposits in all the 42 seats it contested. Pejuang got 18,692 votes (1.34%), Sabah-based Warisan party received merely 6,532 votes (0.47%), PBM got 4,880 votes (0.35%), Socialist Party PSM 997 votes (0.07%) and Putra took 247 votes (0.02%).
Barisan won not because the coalition was strong or had done something spectacular. Rather, it won because Pakatan is weak, directionless and leaderless. During the 2018 General Election, a united and strong opposition comprised DAP, Amanah, PKR, Bersatu and Warisan were being led by Mahathir, while PKR president Anwar Ibrahim was in prison.
On Saturday, the overcrowded opposition parties were practically butchering each other. Bersatu, having betrayed allies and friends in Pakatan Harapan, did not have the Chinese support and merely depended on Malay voters. Pakatan, lacking Malay support, has to depend on Chinese voters. Pejuang, depended on Mahathir’s past glory, has neither Malay nor Chinese support.
If the results of the Johor state election are any indicator, the Opposition will definitely be crushed in the next 15th General Election. Johor provides the best opportunity for Pakatan Harapan to return to power, largely because it is the only state with the most number of “mixed racial composition” constituencies. If it can’t even capture Johor, it will not be able to capture the federal government.
The recipe for victory is on the table. But can all the opposition parties reunite again after all the betrayal, treachery, backstabbing and whatnot? Can opposition de-facto leader Anwar forgive Muhyiddin’s treachery, let alone forget fellow Azmin Ali’s betrayal? Even if all of them can forget the past, which they can’t, what is there to stop “Sheraton Move” version 2.0 after the 15th national polls?
And even if Anwar-led Pakatan Harapan and Muhyiddin-led Perikatan Nasional wanted to join forces, can Islamic party PAS and Democratic Action Party DAP see eye-to-eye? Assuming both PAS and DAP can pretend to be working together again, can their respective hardcore supporters accept each other without triggering an internal split or boycott at the ballot box?
But why fantasize about a united Pakatan and Perikatan when there was a split within Pakatan Harapan itself? Yes, PKR strategist Wong Chen and genius like Fahmi Fadzil have been lecturing allies DAP and Amanah that the real problem they suffered embarrassing defeats was due to the Pakatan Harapan logo. They argued that the logo is a reminder of the toxic Mahathir.
So, according to PKR’s childish and silly logic, which was agreed by its president Anwar Ibrahim, the formula to win big again was as simple as using the PKR logo, not Pakatan Harapan logo. Yet, hilariously but expectedly, PKR’s logo and flag could only capture 1 out of 20 seats it contested in Johor. What else will they blame now after the spectacular defeat in Johor.
Since the Pakatan Harapan government was betrayed and toppled through “Sheraton Move” in March 2020, the People’s Justice Party PKR has not been able to move on. They keep finding excuses, along with chest-thumping remarks, about how great they once were. They have wasted 2 years with nothing buy dreams to install Anwar Ibrahim as the next prime minister.
Exactly why Nurul Izzah (Anwar’s daughter) and Rafizi Ramli, arguably two of the shining stars of PKR who could click and connect with young voters, have not returned to help revitalize the party? Previously, PKR hardcore supporters had blamed Mahathir for Nurul and Rafizi’s “premature retirement”. But Mahathir had already been kicked out 2 years ago.
PKR is having a leadership crisis, despite denials from its top leadership. It attracted only 82,556 votes (5.93%) votes in Johor, behind DAP and Amanah. Effectively, PKR is the weakest party in Pakatan, despite using its PKR logo in the state election. In fact, Bersatu’s 196,078 (14.1%) votes are more than double of PKR’s, while PAS’ 97,552 votes exceeded PKR’s.
What more proof that PKR wants that it has failed to win over Malay voters? Not only PKR should bring back talents like Nurul and Rafizi, Anwar Ibrahim (assuming he has no plan to resign) should stop surrounding himself with useless apple polishers like Farhash Salvador Rizal Mubarak, who have done nothing but given rotten advice and played internal party politics.
After the betrayal of Azmin Ali and his boys, followed by a sudden exit of Nurul and Rafizi, PKR appears to be inactive, demoralized, directionless and disarray. It’s not an exaggeration to say that DAP, not PKR, that has been leading the Pakatan coalition, when it should be Anwar’s job. One could argue that the Opposition could perform better with Wan Azizah (Anwar’s wife) in charge.
While PKR was distracted with the obsession to make Anwar the next prime minister, DAP too has wasted valuable time with its obsession to put crooked Najib Razak in jail, to the extent of signing an MoU to support the racist, clueless and incompetent Ismail Sabri administration. Worse, neither DAP nor PKR has done enough to explain to the people why they support the turtle egg man.
For example, minorities Chinese and Indians were mad and furious why opposition Pakatan Harapan voted to pass the Budget 2022, which despite the monstrous RM332.1 billion budget, had discriminately and unfairly allocated a pathetic RM200 million for the ethnic Chinese and RM145 million for the Indian community. The loss of Yong Peng to rival MCA is proof of self-inflicted damage from the MoU.
Yes, Pakatan’s biggest screw-up was the lack of communication after they formed the government in May 2018. They did not fully utilize the government news media to win over the rural Malay vote bank, allowing opposition UMNO and PAS to stir up racial and religion sentiments among the Malays that the Muslims and Malay Rulers have lost power to the “Chinese, Christians and Communists”.
A portion of Chinese voters has returned to Barisan because Pakatan failed to explain their achievements during their 22-month rule, while disgraced ex-PM Najib Razak’s “Malu apa bossku” (What’s the shame, my boss?) moniker continues to brainwash even some Chinese that it’s perfectly alright to steal money. Fortunately, majority of the Chinese Johoreans who swung were MCA supporters.
DAP, and its allies PKR and Amanah for that matter, should realize that their hardcore Chinese supporters had chosen to stay at home rather than vote for them (as proven in DAP stronghold Skudai’s turnout of just 36%), contributing to the overall low turnout of about 55%. It was to teach the coalition a lesson. Despite the low turnout, the 1.39 million total votes are about 100,000 more voters than the 2018 election.
Unity and leadership are not the only two problems plaguing Pakatan Harapan. What is their new strategy to impress the voters? Obviously signing the MoU has backfired and flying the PKR flag or logo has failed. The old bullets – 1MDB, GST, Rosmah Mansor – are no longer effective. Heck, even large-scale “ceramah” (election rally) has been banned by the government.
Component parties DAP and Amanah cannot wait for PKR, who stubbornly refuses to listen, let alone make any radical changes. Proposing Wan Azizah as the first woman prime minister, and “a promotion” for Anwar as PKR mentor or adviser, could be one of the strategies to bring new breath to both PKR and Opposition. DAP should take the lead to unite as many opposition parties as possible.
Without the usual large-scale “ceramah”, the opposition has to create effective and creative campaign materials to influence and encourage young voters to vote for them. In Johor, a whopping 1.2 million eligible voters did not go to vote. This is a new market, consisting of both new and old voters that the Opposition should explore and penetrate, preferably through social media.
What is the differentiation between two IT resellers, for example, who try to sell a similar product or solution to a customer? Besides pricing, there’s a something called value proposition, which could be professional services or post-sales support. Why do you think some company deliberately hire “attractive female account manager” to serve certain clients?
Likewise, the opposition has to offer a value proposition that is much superior, yet achievable, to the voters. Barisan Nasional’s value propositions are development and stability, which works like a charm simply because all the opposition leaders had failed to propose anything new, except screaming about Najib Razak’s 1MDB scandal and corruption.
Not only Anwar leadership did not have any value proposition, it fails to influence voters of “bread and butter” consequences if Barisan were to return to power. For example, petrol price for RON95 was fixed at a certain ceiling price during Pakatan Harapan administration, without which the people would suffer today as a result of Russia-Ukraine conflict, which saw crude oil hit US$130 a barrel.
During Najib administration, there was “no ceiling price” and the fuel price at stations would be adjusted or “floated” on a monthly basis according to the global crude oil prices. Therefore, if Barisan Nasional and Najib return to power, people may be forced to pay more than the current RM2.05 a litre for RON95. But how many people actually realize this possibility, as they happily scream “Bossku”? – Finance Twitter